Mocha Uson returns to gov’t, appointed to Owwa
MANILA, Philippines — Former assistant presidential communications secretary Mocha Uson is back in the government, but a party list representative and several workers’ groups are questioning her eligibility.
A list of new presidential appointees released by Malacañang on Monday showed the sexy dancer and pro-Duterte blogger was appointed on Sept. 23 as deputy administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa), an agency overseen by the Department of Labor and Employment.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said Uson was not eligible because she had not yet cleared the yearlong constitutional ban on appointments to government jobs for electoral losers.
Uson was the first nominee of AA Kasosyo, a group that advocates for sustainable development, which lost the sectoral vote in May’s midterm elections, polling only a little more than 120,000 votes.
It has been only four months since the balloting so Uson’s appointment was “illegal,” Gaite said in a statement on Monday.
The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to look into Uson’s appointment, as it violated the constitutional provision barring losing candidates from government jobs within a year of the polls.
“She’s not exempted from the appointment ban. She’s a nominee [of] a losing party list [group] in the last elections. The Comelec should take the lead in disqualifying her,” FFW president Julius Cainglet said.
Not covered by ban
The Comelec, however, said Uson’s appointment was not illegal.
According to James Jimenez, the Comelec spokesperson, Uson was not covered by the yearlong appointment ban.
“Candidates are the ones covered by the one-year ban. Party list nominees are not candidates per se, so the rule doesn’t apply to them,” Jimenez told reporters.
The party list election system considers the organizations as the candidates, not the nominees, he said.
The Owwa is Uson’s third office in the administration of President Duterte.
The President first appointed his ardent supporter to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in January 2017.
In May of the same year, he appointed Uson to the Presidential Communications Operations Office, where she soon came under intense criticism for her crass social media posts.
She quit in October last year after the public raked her over the coals for a song-and-dance video on federalism that was deemed lewd.
With that background at the Owwa, Uson is unacceptable to Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (Lodi), an alliance of media and art groups.
“Uson was not qualified as a presidential communications operations office assistant secretary,” Lodi said in a statement on Monday.
“She is also not qualified to be in a position that requires full trust and confidence of overseas Filipino workers in the handling of their funds,” the group said.
It said there were many other Owwa career officers who were more qualified, deserving and trustworthy who could serve as deputy administrator.
“Misinformation, disinformation, hyperpartisanship and hate-filled rhetoric have no place in Owwa,” the group said.
At the Owwa, Uson is ranked deputy executive director V, with salary grade 29, and a monthly pay of P155,030—the same as in her old post.
No executive skills
Cainglet said Uson did not have the “managerial and administrative skills” needed for the Owwa post she was taking.
“She did not display these in her last post as assistant secretary [at] the Presidential Communications Operations Office, which she left in disarray,” Cainglet said.
“She can’t differentiate between official functions and personal activities. She used government resources in her personal blog and often issued statements that [were] contrary to official policy,” he said.
Uson did not answer the Inquirer’s call requesting for comment on Monday.
The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa on Monday asked why, it appeared, there was no longer “any space for meritocracy” in the Duterte administration.
“Our migrant workers definitely deserve better treatment than having people appointed to an Owwa post simply because of political patronage,” Sentro secretary general Josua Mata said.
Give her a chance
But for longtime migrant advocate Toots Ople, Uson should be given a chance to prove herself, especially that the Owwa is understaffed and “needs a lot of help in communicating its programs and services.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also supported the appointment of Uson, saying he believed she was fit for the post.
“That’s OK. She has a great following from [overseas Filipino workers]. She might be able to help,” Sotto told reporters, adding that matters concerning migrant workers were Uson’s “forte.” —With reports from Jhesset O. Enano and Leila B. Salaverria
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